Ports & Terminals

Cargo Volumes At Port Of Milwaukee Grew More Than 5 Percent In A Year Of Challenges

In an unusual year with historic challenges, Port Milwaukee (Wis.) finished 2020 with its highest annual cargo volume in the past seven years. Overall tonnage for the municipal port and the adjacent private docks in Milwaukee Harbor rose more than 5 percent, led by agricultural exports and handling of cement.

“Port Milwaukee’s resilience was on full display in 2020.  We overcame flooding resulting from unusually high water levels on Lake Michigan at the start of the year.  We also overcame the pandemic’s sustained effect on the economy and on the port’s essential operations,” Port Director Adam Tindall-Schlicht said.  “Our workforce, our partners, and our customers deserve enormous credit for this past year’s successes.”

Private Tonnage Leads The Way

Tonnage at the port’s municipal facilities on Jones Island was down a little more than 1 percent compared to 2019.  Even so, that tonnage finished ahead of both the five-year and 10-year averages for Port Milwaukee.  

Led by outbound grain shipments and construction material, private docks in the harbor handled nearly 37 percent more cargo than last year. Total private tonnage amounted to 485,814 tons in 2019, and 663,808 tons in 2020.

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In addition to the positive cargo news, Port Milwaukee welcomed major announcements of new activity in 2020.  Viking revealed that its Expedition cruises will use Port Milwaukee as a major Great Lakes turnaround destination beginning in 2022. Pearl Seas signed a new agreement for its long-term cruise operations in Milwaukee. The Delong Company announced its plan to build the port’s new $31 million-plus agricultural export facility. Finally, Michels Corporation signed a new lease to expand its marine construction operation at the port.

“2020 brought Port Milwaukee its largest new investments in decades, and, looking forward, these projects will have an ongoing, positive impact across the regional economy,” Tindall-Schlicht said. 

“The city of Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Department of Transportation have been integral partners in sustaining the port’s performance in 2020 and supporting its future growth. We are grateful.”